We just ended the second week of working remotely as a company because of the Coronavirus crisis.
We promised to share our experience as we go along to help you understand what it takes to keep all staff members engaged remotely.
One thing we need to agree on is that no one saw this crisis coming. It was a “Chinese problem” until it began to affect other nations.
The Kenyan government was quick to catch on with the safety measures to control its spread. We have moved from calls to work from home to mandatory dusk to dawn curfew.
Our journey of working from home got better in the second week. Here are the lessons shared by our team so far:
1. Set up your new office
If you have been working from your employer’s office for years, chances are that you have no working space at home.
Our team had the same challenge as shared in our previous post. Setting up the workspace does not happen overnight.
We cannot predict when it will be safe for us to work closely again in an office setting and neither can you.
The temptation is to curl on your couch or bed with a laptop. We have tried that. It does not work as you expect. You will be snoring after an hour or so!
Even with limited space at home, you can set up a new workstation with a comfortable desk and seat.
Here is the danger of working from your couch. By the time the crisis is over, you will be complaining of back and neck pains.
Your couch was designed for rest, TV, and family talks, not long working hours.
You may start there but by now, you should have an ergonomic workstation.
The workspace will help you in the future when you need to do assignments or personal studies at home.
2. Create boundaries
We know this challenge so well. Everyone is on a mandatory quarantine. All your family members are working from home or just staying at home.
You are a bit lucky if you live alone but the situation for many of us is a family setting.
The fireplace stories are back. For parents, your kids need attention all day.
We are moving from watching the latest news to sudden meals in the kitchen.
How do you get work done in such an environment? Set boundaries!
Call for a family meeting if you need to and agree on working hours. This means that they cannot ask for anything or walk into your workstation at certain times.
If you are a parent, explain to your kids that you are not out on holiday. Give them assignments to do while you work.
Where possible, ask for help with the kids during your working hours.
Here is a tip with boundaries. Respect other people’s boundaries if you want them to respect yours.
If you constantly interrupt others, they will do the same.
3. Constant communication
You have covered the situation at home, created the workspace you need and communicated your boundaries to everyone.
Your team members are doing the same in their new office setups.
We have noticed that we move faster when everyone is online at the same time. Communication is important when creating an app or website remotely.
You must communicate your progress at every stage and respond to your team members promptly.
This is only possible if the environment at home allows you to focus on your tasks throughout the day.
We understand that technical hitches may come along the way. For instance, a team member may lose power or internet connection.
You may hit a snag with an assigned task and need assistance.
Such a team member has the responsibility of informing others of the challenge immediately.
Luckily, we have multiple channels of communication at Muva Technologies. In our planning period, we advised the team on the best way to use each channel.
Communication is not just for a smooth workflow. Your workmates are like family depending on the relationships you create in the office.
We work more or less like a family. Everyone must check in daily with the current health status and all.
We are also sharing tips on how to stay safe and navigate the uncertainties of the day.
4. Maintain an office-like schedule
Well, this proved tough at the beginning but we are slowly catching on with the schedule.
When going to the office, you set your alarm at a certain time. For most of us, you are ready to start your day at 8am or 9am.
Do not break the routine. Remember that we are working remotely just for a season.
It will be hard to adjust after the crisis is over.
The greater benefit is that maintaining your routine helps you manage your time effectively.
Take the breaks as usual. This means that you might need to prepare your meals earlier or ask for help.
Here is a quick one, do not adopt unhealthy eating habits and blame it on the crisis.
Maintain your discipline in preparing healthy meals before or after work.
Using an office-like schedule means getting off your desk at 5pm or your usual time. This brings us to our last tip for the week.
We get it. You want to prove to your boss or supervisor that you are working effectively from home.
You might be tempted to work extra hours into the night because you can. You can use the time you spend in traffic to work.
However, you need balance to maintain the daily routine. Your family still needs your attention.
If you do not give them the usual time, they will have a hard time keeping the boundaries you created.
You need time to catch up with your friends, catch the latest news, and keep the hobbies you can.
Outdoor activities are limited but you still have options for indoor activities besides watching TV.
Remote working offers an opportunity to do more every day where your work and personal development is concerned.
Learn something new. Learn new ways of doing your job. Develop a new hobby. Spend more time your family now that you can.
At the end of the crisis, you should have tangible results of how you spent the extra hours.